Monday, October 17, 2011

How To Get Over Yourself

Today I listened to Danielle LaPorte's interview for the World Changing Writing Workshop. She asked: "What would someone pay $100 an hour to learn from you?"

[Crickets chirped in the background as I considered my options...this wasn't an uplifting query.]

Technically, I am a lawyer - and a pretty good one at that. I could certainly get paid to practice law. Come to think of it - that's exactly what people pay me to do now. The problem is that it doesn't really float my boat. So...what other skills do I have that are potential gold mines?

Cooking? Not really. My food is completely un-photogenic.
Wine tasting? HAH! Um. Nope. I like to drink it but think it's stupid when people say they taste cayenne and grass in chardonnay. If I ever really tasted grass in my wine, I'd think the wine store screwed me over big time.
Starting my own business? I wish I was an expert in that, but that would be another big fat NO.

Around the time I was looking for my wig in the Halloween store, it dawned on me that I could write a "how to" article about getting over yourself because, as it turns out, I've had to do that in spades over the last few years. Repetitively. I'd be falsely modest and state that maybe I'm the only one who needs to get over myself but we both know that's not true, don't we? To be clear, in my mind "getting over myself" means that I roll with the punches when someone treats me disrespectfully, refuses to do their job, or acts like a complete jerk. (The aforementioned disrespectful, lazy and/or jerky individuals are hereinafter referred to collectively as "Apparent Loser" or "AL.")

A step-by-step guide to getting over yourself:

1. Acknowledge that, in your opinion (and maybe in the opinion of most right-minded people), AL is a worthless excuse for a co-worker/teacher/relative/__________ (feel free to fill in the blank as you see fit). Seems counter intuitive, I know. But the truth is that none of us have a prayer of getting over the misdeeds of another unless we first admit that we are completely pissed off at them.

2. Consider whether it is critical that you confront AL about his/her behavior. This is the tricky part, boys and girls. You see, I know you think AL should stop being a jerk/lazy/worthless because it causes you unnecessary misery/work/stress, but is it really essential that it turn into a battle between the two of you? This is honestly the most difficult step for me because I am the princess of the "it's not fair" argument. As many times as Momma told me "Life ain't fair" growing up, you'd think I'd get it by now but ...that's a tough truth to accept. So here's what you do. You ask yourself - What's the worst that can happen to me (or someone I love) if this behavior continues indefinitely?  In a few cases (such as a teacher who is treating your kid horribly or a spouse whose actions are leading to marriage deterioration) the end results could be very detrimental. However, in most cases it's obvious that nothing bad will happen other than the fact that your stress level increases exponentially. The worst damage caused by most ALs is high blood pressure for the recipient. And guess what? The recipients (you and I, dear readers) are really the ones in control of that situation.

3. If it turns out to be critical that you confront AL, then do so in an upfront (i.e. NON-passive-aggressive) manner and expect change to happen because of the conversation. If you approach the conversation with an open mind, you might actually learn about some adjustments that you could make in your behavior that would help the situation. If such adjustments would be helpful - make them.

4. If it's not critical that you confront AL (and this will usually be the case) - that's when you've got to get over yourself. Which is so much easier said than done. Lucky for you, I'm here to walk you through the process.
  • Start by being honest with yourself about the last time you were lazy or rude or useless. If you're like me you'll try saying: "Well, sure, but I never act that way at work!" or "Well, sure, but he deserved it!" DON'T do that.
  • Next, try to remember the last time that you had a truly terrible day and you treated someone else like poo or just plain forgot to do something. Remember it? Well, maybe AL's day was worse.
  • If all else fails, ask yourself whether you can you walk away from the situation. Maybe it's no fair that you have to leave your job because someone else is mean or lazy - but nobody ever said life was fair. If you have another option that will make you happy why not take it? Maybe your child needs another teacher. Maybe you need a different friend. You can't fix some meanies and those are the ones you sure don't need in your life.
  • Finally, it's just like your mom used to tell you (or maybe she didn't - maybe it was just mine): you can be mad at that person all you want, but the only person you're hurting is yourself. Do you feel that stress headache coming on? Did you notice how you ran straight to the candy machine at work? Uh-huh. Momma's right. Don't let AL win in the long run by making you sick, sugar.
For most things, we just need to let it go. That bears repeating... and I will do so.
Let. It. Go.

Do I follow these steps all the time? Heck no. I'm lucky if I follow them 25% of the time. Not only that, I'm fully aware that God has a sense of humor so I expect that she'll send me a doozy of an AL within 48 hours of me hitting that bright orange "Publish Post" button at the bottom of my screen. As a matter of fact, I'm really writing this so that I'll be accountable to my tribe. The next time you hear me complaining about someone (and I will) you now have this handy reference so that I can be reminded of how to get over myself.

Or you could just keep your advice to me short and sweet.

Let it go, Jenn. Let. It. Go.

1 comment:

Megan Willome said...

Hmmm. I don't know what someone would pay $100 an hour to learn from me. Glad you know for you!